How do I know if I am properly hydrated?

Doug N. Cutter, MD
Sports Medicine
The easiest way to know if you're hydrated is if you urinate frequently and the urine is clear. Watch Douglas Cutter, MD at HCA Virginia Sports Medicine discuss how athletes need to replace fluids with a sports drink diluted with water.
During activity, you lose water primarily through sweating and breathing. There are two main ways to monitor your hydration to see if you are replacing lost fluid: Take note of the color of your urine, and how frequently you urinate. If you are properly hydrated, your urine should be pale yellow in color. If your urine is dark yellow or even brown in color, you are likely dehydrated and need to drink fluids as soon as possible. Ideally, you should be emptying a full bladder that contains pale yellow urine every 3 to 5 hours daily.

You can also monitor fluid loss by weighing yourself before and immediately after activity to calculate your net fluid lost. The basic formula is pre-exercise weight minus your post-exercise weight equals your net fluid loss. These weigh-ins should be done in the same or similar dry clothing with dry hair and should only be used to monitor fluid intake, and not for general, everyday weight monitoring. Drink 2 to 3 cups of both water and a properly mixed sports drink for every pound lost and not replaced during activity.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Appalachian State University Athletic Training Education Program.)
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Hydrate yourself with water, not soft drinks of energy drinks, during the summer months. Dr. Oz talks about a quick test you can do to see whether you are dehydrated in this video.


Continue Learning about Healthy Eating For Athletes

Healthy Eating For Athletes

Healthy Eating For Athletes

Your body needs adequate fuel for athletics. Eat a healthy meal or snack loaded with proteins and carbohydrates. Consume carbohydrates like bread, pasta, fruit, cereal and vegetables so you have quick energy during exercise. And, ...

the protein (grilled chicken, fish) you eat will help your muscles recover and grow, and also keep the blood cells healthy to deliver oxygen and nutrients. By drinking 16 ounces of water a few hours before exercise will help you stay hydrated. Its OK to use sports drinks if you perspire heavily, if the temperature and humidity is high, if you’re playing a team sport or if you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes. They provide necessary carbohydrates and sodium.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.